There is much debate about the merits of hot pineapple but I remain firmly in the positive camp. These are a grown-up version of pineapple fritters that I used to eat on the beach, a treat after fish ’n’ chips.
- 4 x 1.5 cm-thick rounds of pineapple
- 100 g caster sugar
- 500 ml (2 cups) water
- 1 vanilla pod, split and scraped
- 5 cloves
- ½ tsp table salt
- 200 g plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
- 150 g cornflour
- 400 ml cold sparkling water (approximately)
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 tsp ground pepperberry
- 1 tsp table salt
- vegetable oil, for deep-frying
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
For the batter, place the plain flour and cornflour in a medium bowl and whisk in enough of the sparkling water until you have a smooth and not too thick batter – you want it to be the consistency of a crêpe batter. Place the batter in the fridge until you’re ready. It can be used immediately, but will be better if you give it an hour or two to chill out.
Use a small round cutter to cut out the core of the pineapple, then cut the fruit into quarters.
Place the sugar, water, vanilla, cloves and salt into a medium-sized saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat. Once it’s boiled, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 2 minutes.
Gently drop the pineapple into the simmering liquor and cook for 2–3 minutes or until just starting to soften. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside (see Note).
For the pepperberry sugar, pound the sugar, pepperberry and salt together using a mortar and pestle until fine.
Once you’re ready, fill a wide-based saucepan with 6 cm of oil and heat to 180°C.
Drain the pineapple pieces on paper towel, then lightly dust in flour.
In two batches, drop the pineapple pieces into the batter, then gently drop them into the oil. After about 30 seconds, separate with a spoon to make sure they don’t stick to each other or the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes before flipping them over and giving them another minute or so.
Scoop out and place on a wire rack set over a tray in a warm spot. Sprinkle generously all over with the sugar mix.
Fritters are best eaten hot – don’t wait or they’ll go a bit soggy.
• The pineapple can be cooked in advance and kept in the fridge for a good week. Use it like you would tinned pineapple, only a more luxe version. You can keep the pineapple syrup and re-use it or drizzle over desserts.
• Pepperberry is available online; it can be substituted with black or Sichuan pepper.
Photography by Benito Martin. Food styling by O Tama Carey. Prop styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Nick Banbury.
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